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£5m Mostyn gallery redesign wins Eisteddfod medal

31 July 11 14:05
Oriel Mostyn

A modern art gallery in Llandudno has won the national Eisteddfod's gold medal for architecture.

Oriel Mostyn was described as "a civic landmark of national importance to Wales" at the presentation at the event in Wrexham.

Meanwhile, Caernarfon artist, Bedwyr Williams and photographer Helen Sear of Risca won fine art medals.

Visitor numbers to the Eisteddfod on the first day were 17,881, while 1,586 attended Friday's opening concert.

The gallery at Mostyn reopened in March 2010 after a £5.1m refurbishment.

Warrington-based Ellis Williams Architects added two new galleries to the existing ones in the Grade II listed building.

They were given a brief to design "simplicity, subtlety and sophistication plus one or two surprises".

Mhairi McVicar, judge and lecturer at the Welsh School of Architecture, said the result was "highly ambitious and beautifully executed".

She said: "We were impressed by the way natural light had been brought into the building and the gallery spaces link together seamlessly, not only providing the ideal environment for exhibits, but clearly a highly enjoyable and uplifting space for visitors."

The competition, sponsored by the Design Commission for Wales, also highly commended the new WISE building at the Centre for Alternative Technology at Machynlleth, which was recognised for its "extraordinarily high quality".

Bedwyr Williams, who won a fine art medal, was praised for his eclectic and subverted work which gave a "positive spin" to rural sub cultures in Wales.

These included green wellies - carved and stuffed with straw - a photo of a farmer gazing up a mountain road and a makeover of the cover of a smallholders' publication.

"Bedwyr Williams is mixing the traditional and contemporary in way that needs no prior knowledge of art history or over-conceptualised clap-trap," said medal selector Steffan Jones-Hughes.

"It is right that an artist of his stature and a major player in contemporary British art is recognised by the National Eisteddfod of Wales at this time."

Helen Sear's photos were called "visually beautiful" but "unsettling" and which make the combination of the ordinary into something quite extraordinary" by the judges.

Meanwhile, the Eisteddfod is also hosting an exhibition of the work of locally-born photographer Geoff Charles.

He worked for local newspapers in Wales and England during the late 1920s and early 30s and then returned to his home town of Wrexham in the mid 1930s.

Without Words covers images taken by Charles over 40 years, which are now held by the National Library of Wales.

"There are recurring themes associated with the day to day to meet the diet of expected stories, but there are also images as questions as to what Wales was, is and might be," said exhibition curators Russell Roberts and Peter Finnemore.

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